Thursday, August 29, 2013

Retirement Community Sites with No Costs

Recently I've been researching retirement communities in North and South Carolina for the sheer possibility that someday I might relocate to be closer to my sister. For most of her life, she and her husband have struggled to live and I figure that she'll someday need a place to live that she can't afford and need to share a place with me.

You can imagine how frustrating it is, however, to do a search and go to the sites only to find no cost information provided or if they do, it reads "starts at $2750 a month", "No Buy-In Fees", or "Low $200s" to "Low $300s". I'm not exactly sure why they won't put pricing up or offer a realistic monthly rental, but most actually believe that everyone in the U.S. spends $3000-$5,000 or more a month just on housing and utilities. (I happen to live just north of NYC and my monthly expenses are currently at $817/mo, quite a big difference and they would be at half if I had someone to share them with).

The managers/owners of these communities obviously want to get you to call them or visit so that they can give you the "hard sell", but the truth is that when I go to a site like this with no cost, I automatically assume that I can't afford it. I don't have the time to waste to call them only to find out that I was correct in my assumption or to listen to their speil as to why THEY think they're affordable and such a bargain. The truth is, they laugh all the way to the bank. And then you have those 47% of us who have spent our lives who started working at an annual salary of $2,300 (yes at one time 4 figure salaries were "in" people) and are barely earning between $24,000 - 50,000 now who will need a place to go and there is nothing available that we can afford. And when by the time we reach our 90s, they want to throw us into a nursing home faster than we can say/spell our name.

For the few communities that do post pricing that is still somewhat higher than I'd like to pay but more reasonable, I'm sure there is a waiting list years long. Sure, I could stay where I am or find a place slighly cheaper somewhere, but the retirement or over 55 community offers a social aspect that is not typically found in your traditional apartment complex and that's what I'll be looking for once I leave the workplace. But, I don't think that it justifies an additional $2,183 - $4,183 a month premium.

I'm also smart enough to know that someday I may find myself in need of assisted living services or not want to cook again, but still, I shouldn't have to pay a several thousand dollar monthly premium for them or worse, even before I need them. I should be able to pay only for those services that I truly need.

I often wonder how many of you out there feel the same way I do. I'd like to hear from you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Help Needed for Those with Low Income

Low income housing has a stigma attached to it as does Section 8.  This is because traditionally those considered for this type of housing have been the dregs and leeches of our society, those on welfare who choose NOT to work and continue to have baby after baby to gain additional income. Born into welfare many of them remain in welfare having absolutely no ambition to better themselves.

This type of housing has typically been placed in areas of towns and villages where crime runs rampant - - drugs, stabbings, rapes and murders.  My own home town is proof of such housing locations.  And even if you did need housing assistance through a Section 8 housing voucher, you find yourself in one of two positions: (1) Section 8 assistance no longer available with waiting lists that have been closed consisting of thousands or (2) those apartment complexes who could help a deserving individual do not want to allow ANY Section 8 people in their apartments for fear they are from the dregs of society.

Yet many of these people who fall into the category of "low income housing" are people like you or me, seniors like my mother who can't live with me because she's handicapped and yet has only an income of $15K a year with rent of $14K a year because no assistance is available for her. They are widows and widowers who are in their 80s and 90s whose Social Security and pensions are so low that they have no place to go and are struggling daily to remain in a home in a safe area where they're not going to be mugged or killed. They also should be able to live without wondering whether they should pay a bill or use the few dollars they have left remaining for some food.

My sister recently told me of a story where she was in a convenience store where an old man came in and walked up to the counter with a small jar of instant coffee and a 1/2 pint of milk and didn't have enough money in his pocket to buy it and then put it back and walked out of the store. If she hadn't been the victim of a mass layoff by her company, she would have given him the difference as would I have.  This is happening all over our country and my heart is breaking for these individuals . . . individuals who have worked hard all their lives and yet society has let them down.

While people such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and others have formed charities all the foundation money is going to foreign countries, foreign countries where people hate us.  Instead of investing millions on these people, how about helping those in our own country who need some help, people like that old man who couldn't buy himself a cup of coffee or my mother whose income is going to pay her rent.  These people don't want to beg and they don't want to be considered low class because they are not. And they don't want to be placed in state-run facilities where they are treated like cattle herded into a "day room", where they are forced to sit all day in wheel chairs, eat their meals until they are taken back to their rooms. They have been contributing members of our society and need our help. They did NOT choose to be dependent or needy.

I've been doing my share over the last several years and have jeopardized my own retirement future trying to keep my family's heads above water.  Now it's time for all of the millionaires in this country to come to the aid of some who are less fortunate.